This was my first contact with Aldenham School CCF, and the reason I attended the Biennial Inspection is Regimental. I am one of the Deputy Colonels for the Royal Anglian Regiment, and the Army Section at the CCF is affiliated, and cap badged to the Regiment.
My first observation is that this is a very good contingent. Energetically led, well-staffed and with a fantastic group of motivated and engaging Cadets. It is a small contingent, but my sense is that is derives a lot of its strengths from this. It had the feeling of a happy ‘gang’ where everybody knew each other, everybody looked out for each other and there was no room for anybody not giving their all for the cause. A lot of this clearly came from the top; the Contingent Commander was excellent, providing just the right level and type of leadership upon which cadets thrive. It was also apparent that he had the full backing of both the schools involved in the contingent. Indeed I spoke to both headmasters, and was struck by their commitment. I also met all the contingent’s CFAVs and was struck by their professionalism, positivity and commitment. I was also impressed by their ability as instructors, watching some really excellent first aid training being delivered, as well as a drill lesson that was somehow made to appear fun!
The facilities available to the contingent were also excellent. Suitable classroom space, indoor space large enough for activities such as weapon training and a really well thought out, locally sourced flight simulator for the RAF section to learn the basics of flying on. That the contingent commander had used his own time to construct this from scratch was indicative of how much effort he and his team are putting into the unit. The school is also blessed with excellent outdoor space, which meant lots of different activities could be pursued, offering the cadets the widest possible experience. I also spoke to the SSI, who was also on top of what was required, and it was good to see that CTT support, both Army and RAF were present, and that the individuals were obviously well known to the contingent.
Finally to the cadets, who were quite simply exceptional. Their turnout and demeanour on parade was excellent. All were willing to engage and share their experiences, all of which were overwhelmingly positive. The spread from the most junior cadets, those who have only been in for 4 weeks to those who had been in for several years felt just right. It is a mark of a really good CCF if it can keep senior cadets engaged for the whole of their school careers, and this contingent has done just that. It was fantastic to see senior cadets also leading in the delivery of some excellent training. All the cadets appeared to be well equipped with uniforms they evidently looked after. Throughout the unit appeared to have a good level of resources available to it, which enabled the senior Army cadets to lay on a really good section attack demonstration, which it was good to see, was used as an advertising opportunity to try and hook in the next generation of students from the school.
Overall I was deeply impressed with Aldenham CCF. Small, but perfectly formed. Very well led and with a fully engaged group of cadets who represented their schools, the contingent and above all else themselves in an exemplary manner.
Col Simon Brown